Worth a Look: “Our Revolting Elites” & Dumb Public

Cultural Intelligence, Worth A Look
Full Op-Ed Online

Phi Beta Iota: This is the section that got our attention:

The information revolution, he said, has not raised the level of public intelligence. It is no secret, he continued, “that the public knows less about public affairs than it used to know. Millions of Americans cannot begin to tell you what is in the Bill of Rights, what Congress does, what the Constitution says about the powers of the presidency, how the party system emerged or how it operates. A sizeable majority, according to a recent survey, believe that Israel is an Arab nation.”

Our Revolting Elites

by J. R. Nyquist

Weekly Column Published: 1.15.2010

In 1995 Christopher Lasch came out with The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy. The introduction was titled “The Democratic Malaise” and included chapters like “Does Democracy Deserve to Survive?” and “The Lost Art of Argument.” The threat to our civilization, said Lasch, does not come from the masses. The threat comes from the elite.

. . . . . . .

According to Lasch, there are far worse problems facing America than racism: “the crisis of competence; the spread of apathy and a suffocating cynicism; the moral paralysis of those who value ‘openness’ above all.”   . . .

The crisis of competence is, perhaps, the most troubling problem of all. It comes in three forms: (1) as a general incompetence for living; (2) as an incompetence that wants to manage society, and determine economic outcomes through a redistribution of wealth; (3) as an incompetence through the lowering of professional standards. The first is less dangerous to society than the second, and the third compounds the second. In terms of a general incompetence for living (1): It may be said that people are no longer literate; that their attention span has been attenuated by television and is unsuited to the study of difficult subjects; that their health is ruined through fast food, soft drinks, and excessive indulgence in sweets; that the sexes are disoriented and no longer know how to live together or behave; that children suffer from poor discipline. What is shocking to discover, however, is that all of these things have been encouraged by the purveyors of (2): the would-be managers of society who rail against the market, against fatherhood, against punishment and discipline, and against the necessities of war.

. . . . . . .

Today’s elite does not possess intellectual excellence. Arguably, they do not know what excellence is, because their whole education has come out of third-rate minds — or worse.  Our brightest people are taught remarkably stupid ideas in universities. What they have lost is a sense of history, which is the most important sense for those tasked with guiding society.

. . . . . . . .

The entire elite was incompetent, and Bush made this discovery, and was forced into a position of sorting out a mess caused by his underlings (and by himself). In the financial crisis we see the same forces at work. Every attempt to find a cure is worse than the disease. We move, therefore, from crisis to crisis, from catastrophe to catastrophe. If we had only educated our elite differently. If we had only given them history instead of what Lasch called “infantile sociology.”

Phi Beta Iota: Worth a full read.  In 1997 we wrote of the cataclysmic gap between people with power and people with knowledge.  Today the people with knowledge are trapped between a “floor” of ignorant masses that is pressing upwards (but without funds for nor interest in acquiring knowledge) and a “ceiling” that is falling lower and lower as more wealth is concentrated in the hands of the top 1%.  In 2008 we wrote ELECTION 2008: Lipstick on the Pig to make the point that it is the system that is broken and We the People have lost sight of how to connect means, ways, and ends.  We continue to believe that the only non-violent means of restoring the Republic is to launch an Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) “lifeboat” that both informs the political, policy, acquisition, and operations leaders, and can simultaneously inform, legally and ethically, the taxpayers paying for the OSINT.

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